Professor Tom Shakespeare


of disability research

Keppel Street
United Kingdom

0207 612 7872

Trained in social and political sciences at Cambridge University, I subsequently studied for an MPhil and Phd.  I have taught and researched at the Universities of Sunderland, Leeds, Newcastle and East Anglia.  From 2008-2013, I was a technical officer at the World Health Organisation, Geneva, where I co-authored and co-edited the World Report on Disability (2011) and International Perspectives on Spinal Cord Injury (2014).  My books include: the Sexual Politics of Disability (1996); Disability Rights and Wrongs (2006; 2014); Disability - the Basics (2017).  I was a member of Arts Council, England (2003-2008) and Nuffield Council on Bioethics (2013-2019).  I am currently chair of Light for the World - UK, and vice-chair of Light for the World International.

I have always been engaged with communications, including science communications, and have been a regular contributor to BBC Radio for a dozen years.  I also write regularly  for The Lancet.


Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases
Department of Clinical Research


Centre for Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH)


I teach on disability and development, including disability rights, sexual and reproductive health of disabled people, disability and mental health etc.  I have contributed to all the MOOCs developed by ICED at FutureLearn.   I supervise four PhD students.


I am co-director of the International Centre for Evidence in Disability at LSHTM, with Professor Hannah Kuper.  My qualitative social research has been with disabled people, in UK and Africa, exploring social and economic consequences of impairment and illness.   Specific projects have been about: disabled people's sexual and reproductive rights; disabled childhoods; resilience and success for disabled people in Africa; independent living and social care; rights-based rehabilitation; mental health recovery.  I also have an interest in bioethics as it pertains to disabled people, specifically prenatal testing and end of life and assisted dying.  

With Professor Hannah Kuper, I am currently co-director of the PENDA programme of impact analyses of interventions to improve the lives of disabled people in LMICs.  With Dr Morgan Banks, we have begun research about the impact of Covid-19 on disabled people in Ghana, Zambia, India, Bangladesh and with Syrian refugees in Turkey.  Both these programmes are funded by FCDO.

With colleagues in the Global Mental Health Programme, I am PI of SUCCEED, a project to co-produce and evaluate multi-disciplinary approaches to psychosis in four AFrican countries, also funded by FCDO; I also contribute a disability lens to ACCESS, a collaboration led by IPPF to address SRHR in the development-humanitarian nexus, collaborating with Professor Cicely Marston and team; I supervise a team evaluating the LCD-led i2i disability employment programme in Kenya and Bangladesh.  All these research programmes are funded by FCDO. 

Most recently I have started the Disability Evidence Portal (, which aims to provide 100 evidence briefs on disability for policy-makers.  In 2020-1, I have been PI of a UKRI-funded programme gathering qualitative evidence about impact of Covid-19 on disabled people in England and Scotland.

Research Area
Complex interventions
Health inequalities
Human genetics
Sexual health
Social and structural determinants of health
Evidence use
Global Health
Impact evaluation
Mixed methods
Public understanding
Qualitative methods
Reproductive health
Social Sciences
Social Policy
Disease and Health Conditions
Non-communicable diseases
United Kingdom
Sri Lanka
Sierra Leone
South Africa
European Union
South Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)

Selected Publications

Social health protection to improve access to health care for people with disabilities.
Banks LM; Kuper H; Shakespeare T
Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Dementia enquirers: pioneering approaches to dementia research in UK
Davies T; Houston A; Gordon H; McLintock M; Mitchell W; Rook G; Shakespeare T
Disability & Society
Interrogating and Reflecting on Disability Prevalence Data Collected Using the Washington Group Tools: Results from Population-Based Surveys in Cameroon, Guatemala, India, Maldives, Nepal, Turkey and Vanuatu.
Mactaggart I; Hasan Bek A; Banks LM; Bright T; Dionicio C; Hameed S; Neupane S; Murthy G; Orucu A; Oye J
International journal of environmental research and public health
Trouble in Direct Payment Personal Assistance Relationships
Porter T; Shakespeare T; Stockl A
Work, Employment and Society
Disabled people in Britain and the impact of the
‐19 pandemic
Shakespeare T; Watson N; Brunner R; Cullingworth J; Hameed S; Scherer N; Pearson C; Reichenberger V
Social Policy & Administration
Disability and loneliness in nine countries of the former Soviet Union.
Stickley A; Kondo N; Richardson E; Leinsalu M; Waldman K; Oh H; Inoue Y; Shakespeare T; McKee M
Disability and health journal
Disability and psychological distress in nine countries of the former Soviet Union.
Stickley A; Kondo N; Roberts B; Kizilova K; Waldman K; Oh H; Inoue Y; Shin JI; Shakespeare T; McKee M
Journal of affective disorders
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